The word ‘compassion’ means sympathy, pity, an inner moving or yearning that moves one into doing something about a situation. Unfortunately, sometimes compassion fails to be the undergirding reason why people move toward the mountains of human need. Instead, our motive may be to prove a theological point or even an inner obligation to prove the existence of God to ourselves if not to anybody else. Other times it may be an attempt to earn favor with God. Then there are those who attend churches that make them feel obligated to become involved in their social programs.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather be filled with the compassion of God. I would rather give because my heart is stirred by the Holy Spirit to help those who are in need. I would rather move in the compassion of Christ instead of the compulsion of religion. There is a difference.

I thank God that it was not out of obligation but rather out of compassion that Jesus gave his life for you and me. I am grateful that the cross was not just some legal proving ground for him to say, “I am going to do my part; now you must do yours.” No, it was the absolute compassion of Jesus that caused his arms to be nailed wide open to ‘whosoever will come’ and receive the supply of his life. The provision of Christ’s life was open to us through a compassionate Savior, and it will always be open to the world through the Church that has embraced his heart of compassion for its generation. As scripture says, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12, NKJV).

Compassion is an inner moving of the heart, born of God, that compels us to cry, “Lord, you must release through my hands whatever is needed in this situation. It is not right that your creation should be in such a state. It is not right that your children should be hungry, that the house of God should be in bondage, that somebody should not know the freedom that Christ has fully purchased for them on Calvary. God Almighty, release it through my hands!”